Over the last fourteen months, during which I have released my ten eBooks, I have created a very streamlined process to generate and cover as many eBook formats as possible. Take Curse of Kali, for example, the book I just released. Like all of my Jason Dark supernatural mysteries, it is available in Kindle, Nook, generic mobi, generic ePub, LIT, PDF, and Palm format, along with a HTMl-based reading sample and print versions.
I have noticed that many self-published authors limit themselves to only mobi and ePub formats, which is natural, since with these they can cover the majority of distribution outlets and devices. Some authors use Smashwords.com, which offers eBook versions in a wide variety of formats also, but I have long abandoned Smashwords because of the effort required to create a usable template document and, what I consider, a serious lack in quality of the resulting eBook output of their technology.
Why do you even bother?
One could argue at this point that anything beyond a mobi and an ePub file is superficial, and that may be right. There aren’t very many users out there who still use Palm devices and if they do, who read on them. The same is true with Microsoft’s LIT eBook format, which is barely in use. PDF fares a bit better, as many readers who have made their computers or laptops their preferred reading device like to use that format for its high resolution capabilities and its ease of use, particularly on Mac computers, where reading a document is as simple as pressing the space bar.
The fact that Amazon, Barnes&Noble and even Kobo have free software available that allows users to read their respective content on a wide variety of devices has further strengthened the mobi and ePub formats. And yet, I am a believer that in this case more is better. To me it is important to give my readers the choice to read in whatever format works best for them. I would never want a single reader abort a purchase because he or she realizes that the book is not available for their format of choice. Even if I make only a single sale in the Palm format, I feel it was worth the effort, if only to show that I care.
Specialized kindle and Nook versions, why?
Naturally, my focus is on the Kindle and Nook versions, which I build separately from others in order to make use of some of the devices’ capabilities. For example, I am using a graphical UTF-8 special character — the outline of a star — in my Jason Dark books to separate scenes. Sadly some devices — and Windows, of course — that do not handle Unicode properly, will show a garbled display in this case. Since the Kindle is fully capable of reproducing this graphical star symbol, I make use of it in that particular build while replacing it with a regular * in generic builds. There are other instances where it makes sense for me to make builds specifically targeted to certain devices.
The process demystified
My process involves Calibre to build my final eBooks, which are based on hand-tweaked HTML source files, and as such generating a LIT file is as simple as selecting the format from a drop-down menu in the software. So, how could I not support it?
The Palm PDB file format is a little trickier and requires me to create a completely new source file. However, starting with my source HTML file and using a number of regular expression search and replaces, I have a Palm eBook version ready in under ten minutes, usually. So, again, why would I not support the Palm format if the effort required is truly minimal?
The PDF file is usually culled directly from my print editions. I lay out all my print books in Quark XPress and to create my PDF file, all I usually do is include the cover at the front, change the font size and line spacing to allow for better reading on a computer display. Quark’s text-flowing capabilities takes care of the rest for me. Then I select “Export” from Quark’s File menu and once again, within the shortest period of time, I have a full-blown PDF version of my book, ready for readers to purchase.
The HTML reading sample that I provide for every book on my website, is a stripped down version of the source HTML file used to build my mobi and ePub versions. Again, the time necessary to do this is about one minute or less.
Reach more people
I have to point out, however, that as easy and quick as this may sound, the reason why I can create such a wide variety of eBook formats in such a short period of time has to do with how I create my eBook and print book source files in the first place.
Still, I hope that seeing how easy it can be, will inspire you to think about your own books and see if it might make sense for you to expand your efforts and get your book in front of your audience in a wider variety of formats.
I would like to thank Joanna for allowing me to stop by here today and make this guest post. Her blog has given me so much information, insight and thought-provoking perspective that I felt it was time to give something back. I hope you enjoyed this little blog post.
Feel free to check out my latest release, Curse of Kali, and if you do, please do not hesitate to leave a review, or to contact me directly with thoughts or comments you might have. I love to hear from my readers at all times! For a constant feed straight from my brain, feel free to also follow me on Twitter (@GuidoHenkel).
Guido Henkel is the author of ten Jason Dark supernatural mysteries, including the hot new release, Curse of Kali, as well as Demon’s Night, Heavens on Fire, Dr. Prometheus, The Blood Witch, Terrorlord and the award-winning Ghosts Templar.